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Lisa Reyes, Administrative Services & Operations, Solano County Office of Education

Budget on SCC agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A public hearing and the adoption of the 2017-18 budget, a change order and completion date for the new Biotechnology and Science Building project at the Vacaville Center, and an appointment to the Measure Q Citizens Oversight Committee are on the agenda tonight when the Solano Community College District governing board meets in Vallejo.

The seven-member board is expected to approve the $153.3 million in expenses, well in excess of $110 million in revenues, according to agenda documents. The general fund, at $65.2 million, accounts for most of the budget, followed by capital outlay, at $49.4 million, debt service of $25.3 million, child development at $823,000, and trust expenditures of $11.6 million.

Trustees are expected to approve the budget.

The change order stipulates the completion date for the new $26.3 million Biotechnology and Science Building project at the Vacaville Center, on North Village Parkway, will be Oct. 18, instead of Sept. 17, to allow for completion of some final work.

Source: Budget on SCC agenda

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Source: Another denial for Vaca charter school

Another denial for Vaca charter school – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In a close 4-3 vote, the Solano County Office of Education governing board on Wednesday denied a petition by directors of the Vacaville-based Heritage Peak Charter to align themselves with the county as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.

Trustee of Area 2, Amy Sharp of Vacaville confirmed the outcome in an email to The Reporter, as did Paul Keefer, who heads the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, the operator of several independent charter schools, including Heritage Peak on Parker Street, but most of them are in the Sacramento area and aligned with school districts there.

Heritage Peak is a K-12 independent charter, meaning it is governed by its own board of directors and largely accountable to the state Department of Education. It has 225 students, from a wide regional geographical arc, 15 teachers on staff and annual budget of more than $2 million.

Source: The Reporter

High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson strongly encourages sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students to pre-register to vote with the beginning of High School Voter Education Weeks from September 18–29.

“This is a terrific opportunity for educators to talk with high school students about the critical importance of voting, prepare them to participate in elections, and pre-register online,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “Working together, we can educate and encourage our young citizens to register to vote and turn out at the polls to ensure their voices are heard in 2017 and beyond.”

The Legislature in 2014 designated the last two weeks of April and September as High School Voter Education Weeks and authorized schools to designate students as “voter outreach coordinators.” Teachers can help eligible students pre-register or register to vote either on a paper form or online. Voter outreach coordinators can lead registration drives and other school activities aimed at civic participation.

Source: High School Voter Education Weeks Sept. 18-29 – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Raul Vega, a 2005 graduate of Benicia High School, recently published a mystery story using his hometown as an inspiration for the setting. It is not a book or even a video series, but in true 21st-century fashion, the story is presented as a downloadable or streamable podcast published in episodic installments.

Vega, who is also a musician, said the Rose Drive Podcast started as something he could write music to.

“I didn’t have any projects lined up, so one day I decided with my roommate, ‘Why don’t we create our own?” he said. “We decided to go for it and come up with different ideas.”Rose Drive Podcast tells the story of Markus Hill, a man still haunted by a man named Forrest Sutherland who ruined his family before the end of Hill’s senior year and suddenly disappeared. Ten years later, Hill relocates from New York City to his hometown of Southampton where he overhears two classmates talking about the recent 10-year high school reunion and learns that Sutherland was at the reunion. The podcast focuses on Hill as he tries to learn information on Sutherland’s whereabouts.

Source: Benicia High grad launches weekly mystery story podcast

BOTTG at top of its ‘Game’ at Arty Awards – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Old Town Theatre Group (BOTTG) had a good evening Sunday night. The local theater company took home five trophies in the Arty Awards for its fall and spring productions, including the top prize for its Sherlock Holmes-inspired comedy “The Game’s Afoot.”“Game” took home three awards in the ceremony honoring theater productions in Solano and Napa counties, held this year at Solano Community College’s theater. It was voted as the outstanding adult comedy production, and Paul Hughes and Natasha Harris took top honors as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

BOTTG’s other production of the year was “Intimate Apparel,” an adaptation of Lynn Nottage’s play about a young African-American woman who travels to New York to fulfill her dreams of becoming a seamstress. Dan Clark won top honors for directing, and Chelsea Bearce– herself a Benicia High School graduate– was named as the best leading actress. Due to a tie in the voting, the award also went to Heather Buck for her performance in Lucky Penny Productions’ “The Miracle Worker.”

Source: BOTTG at top of its ‘Game’ at Arty Awards

Former superintendent eyes creation of charter school network – Times Herald

By John Glidden

Former district superintendent Ramona Bishop sent a letter last week to the Vallejo school board announcing her plans to open a charter school in the district.

In the short communication, Bishop gives notice that Elite Public Schools will be petitioning the Solano County Office of Education to operate a K-12 charter school within the Vallejo City Unified School District boundaries.

“We have not identified a specific site, but will be submitting a Proposition 39 request to the district for facility,” the letter states.

A state law passed in 2000, Prop. 39 requires school districts provide space in an area where charter schools want to locate. The space must be reasonably equivalent to the district’s school sites.

Reached by phone Monday, Bishop said her group of educators, parents, and community members are eyeing a network of charter schools in Solano County. They are seeking to open Elite Public Schools in the Vallejo, Fairfield-Suisun, and Vacaville school districts, she added.

 

Source: Former superintendent eyes creation of charter school network

Solano College Vallejo campus celebrates new, state-of-the-art auto-tech facility – The Reporter

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

Every indication suggests the new Solano Community College Auto-technology building in Vallejo is a game-changer, course instructor Paul Hidy said.

The new, state-of-the-art facility at 1687 N. Ascot Parkway, celebrates its grand opening at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Following some 30 years during which most California high schools stopped offering vocational classes, Solano Community College’s 4-year-old automotive course’s growth proves letting those programs go was a mistake, Hidy said.

“Vocational training in most high schools went away in the 1980s, and by the 2000’s someone began to realize that, ‘oops, now we have no one to fix anything,’ and that started to turn around,” he said. “We’re doing our best here to make a change.”

Source: Solano College Vallejo campus celebrates new, state-of-the-art auto-tech facility on Wednesday

Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

It is finally here. After more than three years of planning, discussing and numerous construction delays, Benicia High School’s stadium is open for play, following a grand opening ceremony Thursday.

In 2014, Benicia residents voted to approve Measure S, a ballot initiative aimed at providing $49.6 million in bond funding for improvements at Benicia Unified School District’s seven schools. One of the largest projects to be funded by the initiative was the renovation of Benicia High’s George Drolette Stadium, which was constructed around 1966. The renovation of the stadium, which consists of a football and soccer field as well as a track, was expected to be completed in Oct. 2016 but due to various delays— including one of the Bay Area’s rainiest winter seasons in years— the construction kept getting pushed back. Now the field is ready for play, and the school celebrated with a ribbon cutting Thursday.

The stadium boasts a number of new features including aluminum bleachers that can seat up to 3,300 people, an 8-lane all-weather track, upgraded lighting, a new concession stand relocated to the front of the stadium, a “memory brick” circle emblazoned with the names of past and present Benicia High Schoolers, and a new entryway with signage welcoming Panthers. The only element remaining from the previous stadium was the scoreboard.

Source: Renovated Benicia High School stadium officially open

Vaca teachers award five scholarships – The Reporter

The Vacaville Teachers Association awarded scholarships of $3,300 each to five former Vacaville Unified seniors who graduated earlier this year.

Tracy Begley, president of the school district’s teachers union, made the announcement during the Sept. 7 governing board meeting.

The scholarship winners were announced to the union’s 685 members and the graduates before school ended in early June, she wrote in an email sent earlier this week to The Reporter.

The five were Mikayla Canales from Buckingham Charter High; Dominique Sloper and Amy Rich from Vacaville High; and Mackenzie Howard and Jessica Alvarado from Will C. Wood High.

Source: Vaca teachers award five scholarships

A look at 2 Solano school bonds proves informative – Daily Republic

By John Takeuchi

Important things come and go. It’s wise to review them, to learn for the future.

Let’s take a look at two very expensive local school bonds: Fairfield-Suisun School District’s Measure C ($100 million) and Solano Community College District’s Measure G ($150 million), approved by voters in 2002.

Both measures used state Proposition 39 (passed in 2000), that allowed school construction bonds to be approved with 55 percent Yes votes. Among its rules, bond revenues could only be spent on constructing and rehabilitating school facilities. In addition, the ballot text was required to show the specific projects to be funded; that lets you estimate whether the amount of the bond is legitimate. Later legislation added an “independent citizens’ oversight committee” to assure the public that bond funds were being spent properly.

Source: A look at 2 Solano school bonds proves informative

Full house at newly renovated Solano College theater celebrates Arty awards – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

The 33rd annual Arty Awards gala kicked off with members of the opening act on a make-believe tour of the newly renovated Solano Community College Performing Arts Center.

“It’s a very pretty view,” said one of the women, as they entered from the right side of the stage and down the center aisle. “I think I heard something,” said another.

As they made their own way to the stage, another noticed a packed house. “I see theater people,” she said.

The group of five then broke into “We’re at the Artys,” adapted from “42nd Street’s” “We’re in the Money.”

Host Jennifer Schemke joked that she wanted to tell the audience her name was Stephen Colbert. Colbert was hosting the Emmys at the same time the Performing Arts Network was honoring live theater in the area.

Source: Full house at newly renovated Solano College theater celebrates Arty awards

Solano College to fete auto tech program milestone in Vallejo – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

The Solano Community College Automotive Technology Program has moved into a new 30,000-square-foot facility at the college’s Vallejo Center with the start of the current academic year and celebrates a grand opening this week.

The project is funded by voter-approved Measure Q. The project doubles the size of the automotive technology facility and allows student enrollment to grow.

Source: The Week Ahead: Solano College to fete auto tech program milestone in Vallejo

Gov. Brown weighing support for free first year of community college | EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

A bill to waive first-year tuition at community college for all California residents attending full-time is awaiting the governor’s signature after winning support from a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the state Legislature Wednesday.

If signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Bill 19 would allow for an estimated 19,000 additional students to take advantage of the state’s generous subsidies for community college students — irrespective of their financial need — under a new program called California College Promise.

For the bill to have teeth, it needs money appropriated from the state, and currently AB 19 has no funding mechanism. The Department of Finance, which advises Gov. Jerry Brown on fiscal issues, opposed the passage of the bill in August because of the estimated $30 million to $50 million price tag to enroll the additional students. The department also dinged the bill for expanding financial aid to students who don’t need it, “which is inconsistent with the Administration’s effort to target financial aid to the state’s neediest students.”

Source: Gov. Brown weighing support for free first year of community college | EdSource

New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night – Times Herald

By Thomas Gase

Times-Herald sports staff Michele Drolette was born in 1954 in the middle of George Drolette’s 21-year run at Benicia High School.

His daughter therefore does not necessarily recall all of the X’s and O’s of her father’s legendary football career with the Panthers. She does, however, know how everyone remembers her dad.

“People come and go and sometimes people pass away and you don’t always recall that much about them but people still tell stories about my dad,” said Michele, who still lives in Benicia. “People really loved him and had a fondness for him. It’s really amazing to me.”

 

Source: New Drolette Stadium ready to shine on Friday night

Sister City Program seeks exchange students to visit Japan in 2018 – Daily Republic

By Fairfield City Manager’s Office Staff

Applications are now available for the 2018 summer student exchange group to our sister city, Nirasaki, Japan. The six student representatives depart for Nirasaki around the second week of July, and stay with a Japanese family for three weeks. While in Japan, the student group participates in activities planned by the City of Nirasaki, including visits to local schools, sight-seeing excursions to Tokyo, Mt. Fuji and local scenic areas, and tours of historic and cultural sites, plus a 4-day excursion to Kyoto and Hiroshima via Japan’s famous bullet train, the Shinkansen.

Fairfield residents or students in Fairfield high schools who have entered ninth grade as of August 2017 are eligible to apply to be a member of the group. The application deadline is January 18, 2018.

Source: Sister City Program seeks exchange students to visit Japan in 2018

Study puts Fairfield-Suisun USD in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

A comparison of the Fairfield-Suisun School District with a dozen other nearby, similar districts found Fairfield-Suisun in the middle of categories that include salaries, revenues and employee benefits.

Fairfield-Suisun was the largest of the 13 districts that included the Vacaville, Travis and Dixon school districts as well as Berkeley and Napa Valley.

The study used California Department of Education data from 2015-16.

Source: Study puts Fairfield-Suisun School District in middle for salaries, revenues, benefits

Retired educator follows musical dream – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

Nancy Northrup was born and raised in Vacaville — and on music.

“I’ve always had music as part of my life,” said the Winters resident, who plays guitar and mandolin when she performs.

Later this month, Northrup will be traveling to Waycross, Ga. to play at the Gram Parsons Festival.

She has a busy September and October scheduled locally too, with performances at Berryessa Gap and Seka Hills Winery.

She has also played at the Vacaville farmer’s market, and hosts open mics at Steady Eddy’s in Winters the last Saturday of each month and at Berryessa Gap the third Thursday of each month.

“I see Winters becoming this Renaissance place for art,” Northrup said.

There are many great musicians there who haven’t come out of their shell yet, she said.

She also has played at The Bluebird in Nashville twice.

Source: Retired educator follows musical dream

Solano board gives green light to educational needs – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Solano County supervisors approved a raft of items Tuesday that range from public works and roads plans to meeting specific educational needs and boosting programs that support public safety.

Members of the Board of Supervisors:

  • Accepted the amended five-year Public Works Capital Improvement Plan for 2017-18 through 2020-21, reflecting an increase of nearly $2.6 million from the new state transportation package for first-year projects.

Source: Solano board gives green light to roads, public works plans; boosts public safety

State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)

The State Board of Education today approved a plan for using federal assistance that upholds California’s commitment to the ground-breaking educational reforms of the Local Control Funding Formula.

Every state that receives federal funding to support low-income students and English language learners is required to submit an Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education. Several states submitted their plans earlier this year, while California and more than 30 other states will be submitting their plans on September 18.

The plan—essentially a grant application—allows each state to make a case for how it will utilize and manage federal dollars.California’s ESSA plan meets federal requirements while ensuring the state retains maximum flexibility to continue its shift away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that allows local school districts to better meet local needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.

“With the ESSA plan, we believe we have achieved the right balance between meeting federal requirements and focusing on our state priorities that will help prepare all students for college and careers,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford University professor emeritus. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Education as our application moves through their process.”

Source: State Board of Education Approves ESSA Plan – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)